Tesla Fined By OSHA Over Conveyer Belt Injuries


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The report on this incident does not specify the extent to which the employee was injured, or what injuries they received — simply that the injuries were “serious.” The employee has not been identified, and the report does not confirm whether or not they are still working at the Tesla Fremont facility. It seems unlikely to me that a $36,000 fine would be enough to force Tesla to take action and prevent such an injury from happening again.

Tesla claims that it has a much safer track record these days than it did in the early years, when three workers were injured by molten aluminum. Unfortunately OSHA has proved that the company omitted hundreds of injuries from its annual safety reports to the government agency, and intentionally failed to log countless more since 2015. It really seems like the workers need an advocate in there to help them manage this top-down apparent lack of regard for safety.

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But $36,000 isn’t enough of a fine for a company the size of Tesla. It has a market capitalization of $750.51 billion as of this writing. This isn’t the kind of fine that will have an effect on the world’s most valuable automaker, and will barely make mention in the company’s annual budget. Tesla has sent lawyers to OSHA offices in Sacramento as part of an effort to get the fines wiped away, however.

The California Division of the Occupational Safety and Health Administration has hit Tesla with a $36,000 fine for negligence in the case of an employee being “seriously injured” last April. The worker, a quality control specialist, was trapped in a Model Y when the assembly line lurched forward, hitting the open door on a post and slamming it shut. Tesla’s fine stems from a failure to ensure the power to the assembly line conveyor belt was turned off before the QC workers started their inspection. Two additional $1,000 fines were levied at the same time for smaller violations, including obstructions on the factory floor, and a failure to create written protocols for certain “hazardous energy” machinery.